What started off as a spur of the moment, let me grab you and create a portrait of you because I am super inspired and I can’t control myself whim, has morphed into an official offering at my most favorite industry event, the Engage Luxury Wedding Summit that happens every six months in high-end resorts all over the globe! That entire sentence made me so happy to even think about in private, let alone have it be something that is actually a reality…! I still can’t believe that I get to attend each Engage not only as an attendee but as the official Photo Director for the conference where I get to assemble a team of photographers from all over the country to cover the three days of sheer luxury craziness! Our Engage 15 Nizuc Photo Team consisted of my very own team from my studio – C10 Studios – and was led by the gregarious Dave Noonan (aka Noonan, Noony, Noonykins) the dapper and super tall Dorian Patrick (aka D-Money) and lastly Joel Callaway (aka my personal portrait handler and behind the scenes photographer with over one million amazing photos of me, being a total fool)! These tall, bearded and incredibly handsome men represented me so well here and I couldn’t have been more proud to be a part of a team with them all! I am crossing my fingers that they will all be back with me in November at Baha Mar in the Bahamas, and you should too because they are not only bearded and handsome and fun, they are all killer photographers! Rounding out our photo team was my dear, dear friend Tammy Swales from Rochester NY, the lovely and oh my god amazing Jennifer Domenick of Love Life Images in DC and the energetic Texan that is John Cain Sargent! What a team!
My role this Engage was to oversee the teams and to focus on my portrait project. What’s this portrait project, you ask? Well. It’s a chance for me to let my environment inspire me. It’s a chance for me to let YOU inspire me. It’s an opportunity to create something where the light speaks to me, or I am just looking for a reason to get in a fountain or I just want to make you feel beautiful, present and seen. You know, no bigs. At this Engage I started feeling like a medium, letting little nooks pop out to me and inspire me, feeling the energy of the resort (which is…dude. Just. BOOP! So filled with the most killer light and energy. I just exploded) After each portrait I was left breathless and invigorated, ready to be filled by my next subject and their energy!
So, above. Meet Annie Lee aka the Daughter of Design from NYC. I saw on social media that she was coming with this red hat. And I started to drool! I mean let’s be real! She happened to walk in as I was walking out of a session and we locked eyes and it was game ON! I love love love this image of her so much!
Below we have the bubble of energy that is Amber Harrison of Wedding Paper Divas. She got to see me in my element (shooting and doing my thang) and completely out of my element (doing an interview for her TV spot on how I make my clients feel comfortable) I’ll be sure to share the spot with you all when it airs.. can I just tell you it involves me shooting in hurricane-like wind conditions in a bathing suit!
Noonan! Sometimes there is nothing better than photographing photographers. Nothing! This guy in his Elvis glasses and belly laugh! I have SO many great shots of this cat. Be sure to check out the signature landscapes Noonan shot at Nizuc in the Engage photo gallery, this kid is amazing!
Gracie. If she isn’t her Mom’s mini me I don’t even know what! I could have easily done an entire series of just her all week, and had every intention to, but I didn’t see her she was off having fun, as she should have been!
I almost. Almost. ALMOST started an off-shoot series called the Photographers Corner in my suite (and no we were NOT the suite that had the rage that one night that kept everyone up… AHEM… Brian Leahy!!) but we did have ourselves quite the plunge pool with quite the spots of light which translated to quite the most awesome spot to have some portrait sessions…! Be sure to check my Instagram feed of some others of Vanessa Kreckel + Tammy Swales, Dorian and Joel Callaway via @c10ike. These Blue Kite Cinema boys that are Colin and Nick were so much fun to photograph and to spend time with! Susan Moynihan, who is the editor in chief of Modern Luxury Bride, but who more importantly has legs that go on for days, and also has an affinity for Duran Duran is one of my favorite people to photograph!
Melina Glavas of The Little Nell, Pablo Oliveira of Nuage Designs (Happy Birthday my friend!!) and Stephen Karlisch, a Dallas-based photographer, were all game to play right before the gala on Wednesday as the sun was setting and the wind was whipping about! Thank you for being so patient and waiting!!
Heather + Susan of Gifts for the Good Life, who are the geniuses behind all of the killer swag we get at each Engage are sisters and business partners! I got to spend time with them in April on a scouting trip to Nizuc and watch how they were inspired by the elements of the resort, it was so fascinating to see how their minds worked and then to see how the final products all came together!
One baller Lory Leigh Comeau of One World Observatory broke herself in proper by stepping right up on the first day for her portrait! Miss Maren from The Greenbriar in West Virgina and I will be getting in way more QT this summer, so excited to visit you!! And this guy, Eddie Zaratsian has energy to spare! Here was a rare quiet moment so I had to get this to show proof that it exists!
Right outside of where the speakers were presenting there was such great light and simple canvases for me to create some magical bullshit! Erica of Reverie Gallery fit right in this little spot so perfectly, I love this shot of her so much!! Leslie Wong of Honeybook and her bun made me so happy with this table and those lines of light and her teal nails! Miss Kimberly Bailey of The Butter End Bakery in CA looks like she dressed for this shoot in front of this shutter! That belt? Just. Like. Knock it off with your amazing accessories sister!
Francine Ribeau of Francine Ribeau Events in San Diego had probably the best ‘prop’ in the world with her cute baby bump! Fellow photographer Sarah Natasha is always down for a shoot and why not in our super dope infinity pool? Why. NOT? Speaking of. My fellow unicorn and skittle sister Laura DeCarlo of L Dee Photography is also always down all of the times for a shoot with me, and I her. That was like we exchanged some photo vows. For always and ever amen. And yes, in the seaweed with 12′ tall Joel Callaway scrimming the light with a towel- super professional and amazing while Laura was getting jacked up by the waves! Love this one!
Molly Nelson from The Lodge at Torrey Pines made her first Engage a memorable one by letting me pull her aside for this portrait that I started way back with and then slowly crept closer and closer and closer! The light that is Marsha-Ann of the Sandals Resorts is a bright one, folks! This of you who have not had the joy of interacting with this woman are truly missing out on some of the most amazing energy. She is one of the kindest and most honest souls I am so honored to know her! This purple headed soul sister of mine needs not even a face to see who she is! Because everyone thought she was me anyway and that was AMAZING and it made my day every time she came up to me all mad that people were asking for their portraits! ha ha ha! It’s because we both have great bunz too that really confused everyone! Vanessa Kreckel is the force that is Two Paper Dolls Design House in PA, one of my besties and someone who creates such magical stuff for our whole Engage experience! Those name tags? Give me a break!
Amy Fiordylisi of Catie & Amy in CT aka my own personal glam squad! Was here for her first Engage as part of the glam squad for the Engage team! Fellow unicorn and blue hair, Amy’s observations on life continue to crack me up! Chinchillas! Valerie Romanoff of Starlight Orchestras is such a talent on the guitar, it was amazing to watch her perform and so much fun to photograph her and those curls and that smile! Raleigh Wiese of Meldeen let us boss her around and put her in nooks and crannies after it poured rain for a spell! She was the best sport!
Karen Tran of Karen Tran Florals is always down for a photo shoot! She fit right here so nicely! Joanne Gregoli of Elegant Occasions is one of the most sweet and wonderful people you will meet! I wish I had more time to snuggle you sister! My oldie but goodie NYC buddy Matthew Myhrum always has the best jackets and shirts and this time was sporting a pretty amazing beard! Hello, Handsome!
Don + Barbara Miller aka Rebecca’s sweet parents were so accommodating when we pulled them aside for a little session on the steps. I just love the series I got of them all snuggled in loving on each other!
This girl. My OG. One of the first people I met even before my Engage Mandarin Oriental experience even happened. We saw Love in Las Vegas and both wept. It was then that I knew she would forever and ever have a super special place in my heart! Every time I see Kelly McWilliams of Weddings by Socialites I get the biggest longest and most amazing hug! This time was no exception, and when she saw me this time she burst into tears! It knocked me out, and hit me so hard, and made me feel so loved! I know you cry a lot and people make fun of you (Geomyra!) but I love it!
Carmen Fuentes of Expressionary Events was bum rushed by me as she just innocently was in the lobby! Thank you for letting me create this portrait of you! Gigi DeManio of Genevieve de Manio Photography is a legend and an amazing woman and photographer! I was beyond flattered that she wanted me to create a portrait of her! Like. Dude.
Hope Weiss of Hope Weiss Consulting in Chicago is another Engage mainstay for me. I see her sweet face and know a hug is not far behind! Brooke Keegan of Brooke Keegan Weddings & Events in CA told me she hated having her photo taken! No pressure! But I know you are not alone in this, my friend! I love, love LOVE this shot of you in your sparkly gold dress looking all casual snuggling out there in Mexico! Geomyra Lewis of Geomyra Lewis Weddings and Events in DC is, as I found out this Engage after knowing her for years- my TWIN SISTER! At the dessert party, we talked for about 2 hours about all of the things and had so many life parallels it was overwhelming and amazing. I left feeling so connected to her on the deepest level and was so thankful I stopped her as I saw her walk in!! Twins for life!
This sweet soul that is Stephanie Frasier-Grimm of Couture Parties and the Confetti Foundation in Newport is in my neck of the woods so she does double-duty with me as an Engage alum and New England colleague! We have a wedding together soon and I am beyond excited to work with her!
You think you know? You don’t know! Tam Ashworth! of Isari Flower Studio was / and is/ a model! Yes folks, I would have to say yes, yes she is! Cue the fan!
Gretchen Culver of Rocket Science Weddings and Events in MN, Christina Carnevale of Paper Rock Scissors and Anne Chertoff of Anne Chertoff Media! We cued the fan for Anne courtesy of Laura DeCarlo! This shot cracks me up! Gretchen I feel like you belong at Nizuc in that gown! And Christina I never met a fellow T-Rex I didn’t love!
Becky Levin Navarro of Pearl Events in Austin TX was my first portrait for this Engage! She knew to get in quick! Whitney Carillon of Tres Chic Southern Weddings let the wind whip through her hair for her portrait while also helping to cool her down (it was super steamy!) and the smooth DJ Ray Jarell always gets me on the dance floor!
Fellow photog and Editor’s Edge boss lady Kristi Drago-Price loves being on the other side of the camera!! Stephanie Meiser of Along Came Stephanie let me continue my love affair with making people snuggle that shutter and embrace that soft, beautiful light!
I was eyeballing this spot since my first visit in April and when I saw Leighann Farrelly of Honeybook and that bun, it was all set!
The force that is Andy Cisick of the Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas is a beautiful one! I adore this man so much and now I can add his charming husband to my list of loves around the world!
Ron-Ben Israel of Ron-Ben Israel Cakes in NYC is all personality and if I could follow him around with my camera and document his shenanigans all day long I would! (right Joel Callaway?) Lydia Redmond of The Ritz-Carlton Naples was like, super perfect for this little spot! I was more than a little obsessed with her dress, I can’t lie! And the cherry on top of the entire portrait project was this woman, Ann Taylor who popped back over from the Gala to come see if I was still shooting! It was the ride back to the Gala that put Joel and I over the edge of glory with her stories about her husband who was her high school sweetheart, and her affinity for a man with a banging ba-dunk-a-dunk! Yes, that was a direct quote! Joel and I were dying. DYING! She was killing us and it started off our Gala experience on the exact perfect note!
I can’t say enough about how thankful and appreciative I am of Rebecca and Kathryn for giving me the opportunity and access to have a project like this exist! Their level of trust in me feels so overwhelming and warm, it’s like the best blanket on a rainy chilly day when I need it the most! Thank you both so much for bringing us all together every six months. Thank you for creating the safe and loving space for this community to exist and flourish outside of the event. Thank you for helping me find some of the best friends I will ever know in my life, I would never have found them if it weren’t for you both!
To all of you who stopped me, who waited patiently and let me create something beautiful of you. Thank you thank you thank you! You feed me so deeply by giving me your trust and by being so vulnerable with me! I always leave on such a high from doing this project and can’t wait to see what else is in store for The Four Seasons Orlando in November! If you didn’t stop me but wanted to, please please stop me next time, don’t run away! Wait for me so we can create some magic together! Until November! XOXOXO